Rafael Nadal defeated Alexander Zverev to win a record eighth Italian Open and in doing so returned to the top of ATP world rankings.
Nadal won a topsy-turvy encounter in Rome 6-1 1-6 6-3 after a long rain delay appeared to work in the Spaniard’s favour.
He will now be ranked first in the world when the French Open starts in Paris this weekend.
Nadal appeared to be cruising to another Italian success when he won the first set for the loss of only one game before defending champion Zverev mounted a major counter attack.
Zverev won nine out of 11 games to take the second set 6-1 and lead 3-1 in the decider with a break of serve in his favour.
Following a lengthy rain delay, it was Nadal that picked up the pace and he rallied to win the match and grab his eighth career win in the event.
Nadal has now won three clay-court titles from four tournaments this year and will be very much the man to beat in France as he chases the 11th win of his career at Roland Garros.
The Roma win was Nadal’s 78th ATP Tour title and takes him clear of John McEnroe into fourth place in the list of most men’s titles won in the Open era. His Italian haul is four clear of Novak Djokovic in second spot with four wins.
Nadal’s long-time sparring partner Roger Federer had regained top spot in the rankings when the Majorcan lost to Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Masters last week, his only defeat on clay so far this season.
Federer is 2.40 to win Wimbledon this summer, with Nadal available at 7.00 and Djokovic 6.00.